The Chicago Shopping Guide

Chicago is one of my FAVORITE shopping cities (read about my shopping adventures in the Chicago Tribune).  Located on the shores of the mighty Lake Michigan, Chicago is definitely our kind of town.  Part college town, part business town and part ethnic enclave, Chicago is full of amazing deals.  Chicago fashionistas have long loved the city’s mix of thrift stores and ethnically-inspired shops.

Chicago Shopping Tips

1. Pick up a copy of Chicago Magazine.  This magazine lists the best sample sales and shopping events in the Chicago metro area.  You can also sign up to have the sale and shopping information sent directly to your e-mail inbox.

2. Read Ellen Warren’s column in the Chicago Tribune.  Ellen is Chicago’s true shopping diva and has her finger on all the best places to shop in Chicago, which she often lists in the most-read weekly column in Chicago’s top daily newspaper.

3. McShane’s Exchange is one of the best consignment shops in THE WORLD (with two locations, 815 W. Armitage Ave. and 1141 W. Webster Ave.).  I purchased a Henri Beguelin bag for $100 and a pair of Chanel pumps, barely worn, for $50 at the Armitage Ave. location.  Make sure to check out the second floor, which has heavily reduced prices, most less than $20.

4. Head to Lincoln Park for thrift.  Here you’ll find the best selection of thrift and antique stores, including the trendy Plato’s Closet.

5. Goodwill is…GREAT!  If you’re a true Thriftnista, then you MUST head to the Goodwill store at 1201 W. Washington Blvd. (not far from the Loop).  This Goodwill store, which offers a frequent shopper’s card, is chock-full of amazing deals, from a white wool Escada jacket for $19.99 to a pair of barely- worn Kate Spade evening pumps for $15.

6. The Magnificent Mile, the shopping Mecca of Chicago.  This mile-long stretch of North Michigan Avenue houses 460 stores on eight city blocks, including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.  If you’re from a big city like New York or Los Angeles, you probably won’t find anything different than their outposts in your home city, but the area is worth a stroll.

7. The Art Institute of Chicago.  Besides being one of the top art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago also has a killer gift shop (actually, there’s two).  I like to head to the gift shops AFTER the holidays for major deals on unique gifts (I bought my husband a Pantone laptop bag for $20) and accessories (I bought three bright blue bracelets made out of recycled flip-flops for $3 apiece).

8. Chicago Premium Outlets.  If you’re driving, check out Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, a Chicago suburb.  It’s well worth the trip if you’re looking for deals on Giorgio Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach and BCBG.  Make SURE to score a coupon book before heading out to the store.

9. Gurnee Mills is another great outlet; if you haven’t satisfied your outlet craving at Chicago Premium Outlets, then head west to the Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall, which houses over 200 discount stores.

10. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.  If you’re looking for jewelry, check out Chicago’s Jeweler’s Row.  This jewelry district is the largest in the Midwest, and the diamonds and gems sell at unbelievable prices.

11. Get mall coupon books.  900 North Michigan Shops, Chicago Place, Water Tower Place and Westfield all have coupon books that offer additional savings for shoppers.  North Bridge gives out coupon books for their stores, which you can often pick up at the Visitor’s Desk.  Some require you to show a hotel room key or an out-of-state driver’s license.

More Chicago Info

Chicago’s Convention and Tourism Bureau
A one-stop shop for everything going on in Chi-town.

Chicago Traveler
Provides a whole a lot of great info, including printable maps.

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum—
The first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.

Navy Pier
Shops, amusements and more for the entire family.

Wanna share a shopping tip for Chicago?  Post it in the comment section below.

Catherine Brock

Owner and Editor at The Budget Fashionista
As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.
Catherine Brock